Real or Artificial Tree ~ Which is the Greener Choice?

Real vs Artificial

Real or Artificial Tree? Which is the Greener Choice? You may be surprised by the answer.

For many years, I felt guilty buying a real tree. I felt I was, in essence, killing a living thing and depleting a much-needed natural resource.  Deep down I knew most if not all tree growers practiced a one out, one in system to make sure there is a constant supply of trees, but still, I was racked with guilt.

Every Dec 26th as I drove by the abandoned tree lots and gazed upon the unwanted and unloved carcasses left lying in the snow…I had to cover my ears in an attempt to drown out their mournful cries.

Apparently though, instead of feeling guilty I should have experienced pride for making the environmentally correct choice…who knew? Not me.

Until I started researching this “ethical dilemma” of mine, I was beginning to lean toward purchasing an artificial tree. You can put an artificial tree up weeks before a real tree, which is a big bonus, plus they are re-used every year and don’t generate the waste of their “real” cousins. Right? ….Wrong.

What I didn’t realize and I am sure, many of you are the same, is this. Artificial trees are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic.  Also, during the production phase of PVC, several known carcinogens, including dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride are generated.

Artificial trees never decompose. Virtually every one purchased will eventually end up in a landfill.

While there seems to be, for many, no definitive answer to the real versus artificial question, it is clear that many environmentalists feel real trees are the better choice.

With all of that being said I guess the most eco-friendly option is to have no tree at all. Or, to buy a live tree with its roots intact from a local grower and then replant it in your yard when Christmas is over. (For those of us that have cold winters, better dig that hole before the frost is four feet deep.)

What about you… real Christmas tree or artificial Christmas tree?



  1. We always had a real tree, that we went out and either cut down ourselves, in later years, or bought from a tree lot, when the children were smaller. I loved them and the smell of a real tree. However in later years due to health issues, it became more and more difficult to do the ‘real tree’ thing. So, now I have a a very small PVC tree, which I hope will last me for many years to come. But my first choice will always be a real tree, for sure.

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